Saturday, June 11, 2005

Beta tools

Sometimes I wonder exactly what I have to offer to the development community, I am just a developer the same as thousands of other developers out there, and rather than just add to the blog noise out there, if I don’t feel I have anything new to offer I’d rather not say anything. However, the one thing I am doing that not a lot of developers are doing at the moment, is writing a commercial application using Whidbey (visual studio 2005) and Yukon (sql server 2005). Most developers I know can’t really find the time to do much more than download the beta’s and have a short play before they go back to visual studio 2003 and sql server 2000. So I’ll share some of my experiences using the beta tools. I’ll start the ball rolling by talking about my recent experience upgrading from Visual studio beta1 to beta 2.
The team lead had done the hard yards initially, and was raving how smoothly the upgrade went, as far as code goes, there were a few minor things that needed around dictionaries etc…, but nothing significant. So when it was my turn to upgrade, I thought the process would be relatively smooth. So I started uninstalling stuff… first uninstall our software, then infragistics, then uninstall all the individual components of visual studio, run the cleanup tool (see here for details on what's involved), then uninstall all the components of sql server, as well as the sql server express instance for our software etc…. so by early afternoon, I was ready to start installing things.
Installing vs2005 beta2 was a very long process, so don’t expect to do this in 10 minutes. It’s good to see they have now included sql Mobile in the default install. There was an error at the end installing sql express, but I knew I would have to install our own instance later anyway, so I pushed on regardless. Installed infragistics, then went on to install our product which should have installed the sql instance. It didn’t, so after looking around in the registry we found that the uninstall of the sql instance hadn’t cleaned up the registry. Deleted manually, and attempted again, this time the sql instance install ran, but came up with a fatal error "Service 'SQL Server (instancename)' (MSSQL$instancename) could not be
installed. Verify that you have sufficient privileges to install
system services". I knew I was an administrator on my own machine (what developer isn't), so hit mailing lists and news groups. There were people quite willing to offer advice, but, especially on the sql down under news group, but when fellow Readify employee Greg Low suggested that re-formatting looked like the only option, I started to get a bit worried. However with a bit of patience and some help from one of my work collegues (actually the guy who writes the installer) we managed to figure out that the uninstaller for the sql instance had not removed the service for the named instance of sql server we were using. So hack around in the registry a bit more, and finally the we are up and running. In total 2 days to upgrade from beta 1 to beta 2. everything else seems to be going relatively well, it is a true testament to microsofts commitment that we are able to develop commercial software on there beta tools, but I will make just 1 criticism..... please make error messages more informative, if the error had've said "Cannot install service, an existing service with the same name already exists", I could have saved a day of pain.

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